The CMA: A Global Passport

IMA’s CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification is in high demand by professionals around the world. More than 3,500 professionals earned the CMA in fiscal year 2015 and more than 15,000 accounting and finance professionals entered

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the CMA program. It is a globally recognized certification—a passport—that professionals can take with them from job to job and from country to country. It’s a valued, trusted certification that helps professionals progress in their careers and continue their education throughout their career. Earning the CMA means that you have passed a rigorous test, have met the education and experience requirements, and are committed to continuous learning. When I meet CMAs in my travels, I see two common themes: pride and aspiration.

Pride

CMAs take pride in knowing they add value to their company, whether they’re in Dallas, Dubai, or Shanghai and regardless of whether they work for a local company or a global brand. They recognize and embrace the credential’s integrity, rigor, and relevance. Earning the credential proves to employers your competency and expertise in management accounting and builds your personal brand.

I recently spoke about the CMA program at several IMA events in the Middle East. I was excited by the participants’ response and level of interest in the CMA credential. Many participants approached me after the session to learn more about enrolling in the program. This shows how the global recognition of the CMA has grown and continues to grow.

Aspiration

The CMA also helps change the lives of individuals both in terms of their career growth and their financial opportunities. Not only do CMAs earn more annual salary and compensation than their noncertified peers, but they’re also seen as Group of people on a seminar. Focus is on business woman receiving a certificate from a lecturer. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786738][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/group.jpg[/img][/url]well-respected business leaders who help shape the management accounting profession through their valuable knowledge and skill set. CMAs work in jobs that are interesting—analytical business partners supporting decisions that help organizations grow.

 

Professionals in the CMA program aspire to be Corporate Controllers, CFOs, and even CEOs of their companies, and they know that the CMA can advance their career. The CMA program is a career-long journey of continuous education, requiring CMAs to stay current on business trends and best practices in management accounting through earning continuing professional education (CPE) credits. Each year, CMAs are required to earn 30 CPE credits, including two in ethics training, to maintain the credential.

Enrich Your Career

Continuing education is vital for career progression. Therefore, earning specialized credentials, like the CMA, will help you advance your career and achieve your professional goals. Like a passport, the CMA opens up global opportunities, so get out there and expand your horizons.

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on Twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

Related Article
The Global Growth of the CMAStrategic Finance

My Road to Accounting

As IMA’s senior vice president of operations and CFO, I oversee the strategic planning process; the information technology, finance, facilities, and human resources departments; and other operational aspects of IMA. My responsibilities mirror “the expanding role of the CFO,” a role that IMA and others have written much about. Like  many CFOs, I have a strong background in accounting, but each of us has a unique journey. I haven’t always followed the traditional accounting path.

From English to Accounting

When I entered college, English literature was my passion, but I wasn’t really sure what direction my career would take. My husband and I moved several times in the early years of our marriage in support of his career as a racehorse trainer. We relied on professional tax and accounting services to run the business. When we discovered that our tax advisor had made a serious error, I decided to enter the MBA program at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, to learn enough accounting and tax so that we would never be at the mercy of others to do that work for us. I knew I needed to understand the world of finance for self-preservation, and I discovered that the study of business was a new passion.

I landed a job as a staff accountant with Ernst and Whinney (now Ernst and Young) in Alberta, Canada, and convinced my husband to move his stable there. But, after two years in Alberta, it became clear that his talents belonged in the larger U.S. market. So we relocated to New Jersey. Our family had grown—we have three children—and, as much as I loved public accounting, I had to abandon that track to establish an acceptable work-life balance. I was very fortunate to land great jobs with progressively more responsibility.

A decade later, with a well-rounded accounting education, public accounting experience, and several years of controllership, I found myself searching for a new position when the company I worked for was sold. It was clear that I needed professional certification to obtain a desirable CFO role in an increasingly competitive job market. That’s when I found IMA® and its CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification.

Building My Brand

The CMA helped me pull together all the threads of my career—experience at a number of companies and education at several different universities—in order to present a credential that I could easily explain to potential employers.

Whenever I needed resources, I turned to IMA. Whether it was literature on best practices to streamline the finance department, implementing ethics training programs, or improving profitability by customer, IMA always offered valuable tools for me to build my personal brand and prove my expertise in the field. I was also published in Strategic Finance, IMA’s flagship publication, which helped prove my expertise.

Finding the career path that’s right for you isn’t always easy; sometimes you have to hold a variety of jobs, move around the country, or have a family to find what you’re truly passionate about. IMA helped me on my career journey, and it can help you, too.

By Doreen Remmen, CMA, CAE

Related Articles
How To Choose A New Career Path – Forbes
The Changing Role of the CFO – ACCA and IMA

Innovation: A PR Tool or Part of Business Success?

As IMA’s CEO, I fully support a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s one of IMA’s Global Core Values. We live in an environment of competition, consolidation, commoditization, and complexity. An emphasis on innovation as a sustainable business process helps you reach your company’s financial and nonfinancial goals by delivering differentiated value. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when considering innovation in your company:

  1. Why is it important?

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, companies need to innovate to stay relevant and successful. A company that fosters innovation allows its employees and other stakeholders at all levels to become involved in the innovation cycle, from ideation to implementation.

For example, after two years of having a staff innovation council at IMA, we believe innovation is built into our strategic “DNA” with incentives to take risks and build prototypes to test ideas early. We follow Cynthia Barton Rabe’s credo: “Don’t let what you know limit what you can imagine.”

  1. How will you inspire innovation?

Recent IMA research found that while companies want to innovate, they fall short on the “how-to,” which includes innovation governance and measurement and the role of the CFO. Make it part of your culture and strategy to ensure sustainability. Treat it as a body of knowledge or a business process that requires investment, governance, and reasonable short- and long-term ROI expectations.

Per reengineering expert Gary Hamel, “Radical innovation comes from generating a collective sense of destiny, from unleashing the imagination of people across the organization and teaching people how to see unconventional opportunities… Most companies devote too much energy to optimizing what is there than to imagine what could be. We need to create constituencies for ‘What Could Be.’”

  1. How will you measure innovation?

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IMA recently published Advancing Innovation by Patrick Stroh that includes a new measure called Innovation Value Score (IVS). It uses the BSC framework developed by cofounder Robert S. Kaplan, who wrote the foreword of the book. IVS allows you to assess innovation success, drive innovation in your company, and provide actionable information to corporate decision makers.

While our members, customers, and the profession are the ultimate judge of IMA’s value-added products, services, and bundles, IMA has delivered on several innovative ideas in the past year, including CareerDriver, a new self-assessment competency management tool; the Student Leadership Experience, giving qualified students an opportunity to directly participate in IMA’s Board meetings; and an “inspired technology lab,” focusing squarely on the user experience with IMA portals.

Driving Home Innovation

Don’t treat innovation as a “one-hit wonder” or PR tool to impress your members, customers, board, or other stakeholders. Instead, enable innovation governance, measurement, and role clarity to experience long-term innovation success.

Hamel put it best: “To encourage innovation, to create a real constituency for What Could Be, companies need to unleash ideas, passion, and commitment across the company. We have to move…beyond innovation as a once-in-a-while project, to thinking about innovation as a deep capability.”

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles:
How to Drive Innovation as a CFO – Jeff Thomson, Forbes
Advancing Innovation: What’s Your Role?Strategic Finance
How Crowdsourcing Delivers Supply Chain Innovation – CFO.com

Unleash Your Learning Potential

One of the key skills that will help you succeed in your career already lies within you: understanding the way you learn. Focusing on what topics are relevant to your needs, and knowing when and how you digest information, can help you unleash your learning potential as you advance along your career path.

For me, it’s a rewarding process to help others learn and grow, and I’ve been lucky enough throughout my career to have been involved in training and development in one way or another. Now, as IMAs vice president of education and career services, my team and I are tasked with providing a variety of continuing education learning opportunities for financial professionals in business. These programs and services need to be delivered in a variety of formats in order to help professionals maximize learning. But, it’s also important for individuals to understand their learning preferences.

Here are a few things to ask yourself when deciding if an educational opportunity is right for you:

Topic Relevance

Will the topic help you grow your knowledge, skills, and abilities to be more effective on the job and progress in your career? Is it mandatory to continue holding a certification?

As a busy professional, it’s important to continue your professional education, but it’s also important to choose a topic that is relevant to your personal and professional goals.

Format Preference
Learning_Potential_1How does the training opportunity fit in with the rest of your commitments? Do you have the time needed to attend live workshops, conferences, or events? Is your preference to leverage self-study online courses accessible at convenient times from the comfort of your home or business? Or, does a webinar given at a prescribed time in which a speaker presents on a topic in real time interest you instead?

Determining the right environment and format can help prepare you for an ideal learning experience.

Learning Style

Lastly, but also very importantly, what type of learner are you? There are generally three types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

  • Visual learners absorb information better when viewing pictures, diagrams, or other visual representations of concepts. Such learners may want to participate in courses that are more visuals based and less text based.
  • Auditory learners learn best by listening to Relaxe woman at homedirections and information and verbally sharing information with others. Courses including lectures and engagement through team exercises may benefit these learners the most.
  • In contrast to visual and auditory learners, kinesthetic learners prefer to be actively involved and enjoy hands-on learning. Educational courses that include practice tests, knowledge checks, and case studies are important to such learners.

It’s helpful to understand your preferred learning style so that educational opportunities can enrich your learning experience.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Growing your professional knowledge, skills, and abilities is critical to progressing in your current position and, more importantly, in your future career. Understanding your professional developmental needs, course preferences, and learning style will help with your growth.

With more than 300 online self-study courses available 24/7, webinars on management accounting and leadership topics three to five times per month, and in-person conferences and events typically including lectures and networking opportunities, IMA is dedicated to offering a variety of learning approaches. Check out IMA’s Learning Center for more information. You can also view our new learning assessment tool, CareerDriver, to match your skills to 40 management accounting roles and build a development plan as a guide to the next step in your career.

Written by Debbie Warner, CPLP

Related Articles
The Creative Brain – Ned Herrmann

Finding Your Life Balance in the Workplace

These days, it’s difficult to balance work and personal life responsibilities. For mothers working in business, it’s especially hard to work full time, take care of a family, and have a social life. Before my first daughter was born, I was working at a Fortune 500 company in New York City and commuting from New Jersey every day. After I had my daughter, it became difficult for me to maintain that long commute, so I made a career move to a nonprofit that allowed for a more flexible schedule. In today’s business landscape, there are a few things you can do to maintain your work-life balance.

1. Prioritize Your Life

What’s most important to you at this point in your life: your career or your family? When I was younger, advancing my career was my top priority. Working at a Fortune 500 Prioritizecompany early in my career showed me that I could be successful, but then I wanted something more. I wanted to become a mother, so family became my number one priority.

After I had my second daughter, I realized that I couldn’t do it all myself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at work or home when you need it. I adopted the theory that it takes a village to raise a family. I was fortunate that I could rely on my parents to help with my daughters as they were growing up.

2. Make Time for You
Time for self

To alleviate stress and realign your balance, make sure you reserve time for yourself at least once a week. You can do recreational activities you enjoy but haven’t done in a while, spend time with family and friends, or find a new hobby (like knitting or playing an instrument). As a way to decompress after my first daughter was born, I would have a girl’s night a couple times a week or have a date night with my husband.

3. Ask for a Flexible Schedule

Make sure that your employer supports work/life initiatives. A company that doesn’t have such initiatives may not be a good fit for someone trying to balance personal and professional obligations. I’ve been fortunate to experience the benefits of a flexible work schedule since I have been in the nonprofit industry most of my career, primarily working from home once a week. This schedule is optimal for a working mother who needs to be home with her young children.

Employees tend to be more productive because they appreciate having the flexible work schedule. An IMA’s Annual Salary Survey revealed that a majority of respondents in the U.S. prefer a flexible job schedule over quick career advancement, which in turn increases their job satisfaction.

Keeping the Balance

Now that my daughters are grown, they are forging their own paths in the real world. They will have their own work-life balance struggles to deal with, so I’ll be there to help them along the way, like my parents did for me. Just remember what matters most to you, and you’ll find a way to keep the balance.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE

Related Articles
Promoting Work-Life Balance From the Top Down – Jeff Thomson, Forbes
Mounting Evidence of Advantages for Children of Working Mothers – TheUpshot

Ethics Training: It Starts Earlier than You Think

Ethics is a serious topic for professionals working in business. Stories of financial professionals failing to act in an ethical manner – and the consequences – are unfortunately commonplace. It’s important for management accountants around the world to be able to understand and identify unethical behavior. This importance is reflected in the requirement for professionals holding the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) credential to earn two hours of CPE credit in ethics each year.

While we often refer to ethical issues on the job, ethics training for professionals starts earlier than you think – even before college.

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Growing up, you acquire ethical values through many avenues, including your culture, religion, family, and more. These values stay with you throughout your life. While many people would agree that ethics isn’t something that you can be taught in school, you can learn how to recognize unethical situations in kindergarten through college.

In college (and with continuing education courses), you can learn about applying your ethical beliefs in the real world, the red flags that alert you to fraud and other unethical situations, and the procedures to report these situations. Most higher education institutions require their accounting majors to take an ethics course before graduating or incorporate an ethics component in other courses. This is a great way for students to learn how to address real-world ethical situations and understand what can happen when faced with financial pressures and your business’s reputation is on the line.

If you were ever to get caught cheating in school, consequences can range up to getting expelled. But if you get caught “cheating” in the real world, the consequences can be much more serious, including losing your job, damaging your reputation, and facing criminal charges.

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After you graduate and get your first job, you’ll need to continue to develop your ability to identify unethical situations and learn how to avoid them. One way to do this is by asking for a mentor at your company, who could explain how a seasoned professional would handle such situations. How would he or she recognize the red flag? How would he or she report it? Each company has different procedures, which should be followed first. The IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice can also be a guide in resolving ethical conflicts.

HiRes - stepsApplying what you’ve learned in the classroom to the business world can be intimidating. But if you know the signs of unethical behavior and the resources available to you, you will be able to successfully uphold your values in the workplace and keep your company on the ethical path to success.

As a leader in upholding the highest ethical standards in business, IMA offers many resources to help guide accountants and financial professionals:

In a time when the news is flooded with stories about big corporations committing fraud, it’s more important than ever to understand your values and responsibility as an accountant to hold yourself to the highest ethical standards.

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson

Related Articles:
Overcoming the Fraud TriangleStrategic Finance
The Importance of Internal ControlsForbes
Nine Steps to Make Your Company’s Ethics Training Program Stick – AccountingWeb

International Accounting Day: Celebrating Our Young Professionals

Happy International Accounting Day! I’d like to celebrate by shining a light on the future of our profession: young professionals. This year’s winners of IMA’s Young Professional of the Year Award were chosen for their outstanding and creative approaches to problem solving within the accounting and finance profession. These forward-looking individuals are the driving force behind the evolution of our profession.

adrien dubourgAdrien Dubourg, CMA, CPA, is a manager for the EPM Finance Transformation Practice at The Hackett Group. He has served as a board member of IMA’s Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter for 3+ years, including leading its Young Professionals and Academic Relations Committee. He’s also the treasurer of a nonprofit and sometimes gives lectures for CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) candidates at the University of Dallas. Adrien loves to spend time with his two sons and wife. He says that being passionate about what you do will drive you to career success.

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Ashley_2014Ashley Gibson, CMA, CPA, is a manager at Deloitte Advisory and a member of IMA’s Technology Solutions & Practices Committee. She is currently a student in the Professional MBA Program at Texas A&M University. For her, being an accountant is more than doing taxes and being a bean counter: “I try to be a superhero to the clients I serve, but sometimes I feel like a spy because I’m an outsider, who no one knows by the water cooler, coming in to save the day.”

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brian neale- headshotBrian Neale, CMA, CPA, is currently on sponsored educational leave of absence as he pursues an MBA at the Fuqua (Duke) School of Business. He’ll return to his role as finance manager at General Mills after graduation. Brian thinks of accounting as “the language of business” and works to document the company’s financials, create and manage its control environment, and provide management with useful financial information to guide strategic decisions. Outside of work and his studies, Brian loves to paint, draw, and write and record music.

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tasheeTasheé Singleton is the director of public housing operations for the Housing Authority of Columbus, Ga. She is the chair-elect of IMA’s Gulf South Council and a member of IMA’s Global Board of Directors. Besides work and IMA, Tasheé’s four children keep her active with their sports and academic activities. In addition, she’s partnering with two women to help children with hands-on learning. Her advice to others entering the field? “Be yourself, don’t be easily offended, ask plenty of questions, and seek a mentor.”

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On November 10, 1494, Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli published the first book that discussed double entry bookkeeping – a stepping stone for modern-day accounting. Today we can reflect on the 521-year history of our profession and look to its bright future with these inspiring, passionate, and driven young professionals leading the way. Here’s to another 521 years of accounting!

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles:
What CFOs Need to Know About Gen X and Gen Y – AccountingWeb
News: Next-Generation Job CandidatesStrategic Finance